A recent article in the New York Times, titled “Why Your Brain Feels Broken,” really hit home this week. The article discusses how the stress and mental load of the pandemic impairs our executive function–aka our memory, organization skills, and planning abilities.
If you’re feeling like your nanny isn’t the star employee they once were, you’re certainly not alone. But, as this article makes clear, it might not be their fault.
A commenter on the article summed it up best:
“The chronic back burner worry about getting COVID, the silent weight of 525,000 deaths, a few of which may be personal, the lack of personal space and time at home, which has become an office as well, and finally the lack of personal contact with friends and family.”
The reality is that nannies are experiencing the weight of the pandemic just as much as families.
Over the past few weeks, our team has spoken with both nannies and families who are struggling – like really struggling.
Nannies are telling us that parents working from home have become more demanding, and they’re feeling like they’re under a microscope. I think it goes without saying that no matter what field of work you’re in, it’s hard to do your job (and enjoy it!) if you’re constantly hearing you’re not doing enough, or not doing it right.
It’s getting tough to keep children entertained indoors and they’re struggling too. Life in the pandemic is feeling like Groundhog Day–we’re all stuck in a cycle of frustration, irritability, and discontent.
And the parents? They’re noticing that their nannies aren’t as cheerful, productive, and fun-loving as they once were. They wish their nannies would just “leave their personal life at the door.”
Our team has compared notes from these conversations, and one thing has become clear:
People are burnt out, and many of you are struggling with feelings of helplessness, isolation, and depression.
We’re one year into the pandemic, and this time has taken a toll on parents, children, nannies…all of us. Simply put, we’re not at our best. Most of us are just trying to get through until we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And as the light grows closer through vaccinations and declining infection rates, we need to have some compassion for ourselves and others. We need to admit that we might not be at our best.
So, what can you do about it? How can you help? At the end of the day your caregiver needs to be in a good place with their mental health in order to provide the best care for your children. We’ve taken the time to put together our best advice:
You see your nanny every day, but do you actually know how they’re doing? This can be tough when life gets busy. But checking in with your nanny (and getting real about it!) can help you maintain honest communication. Try to find some time away from the kids, check in, and be up front about what you both need.
Give a Mental Health Day
We all need a break sometimes, and the pandemic burnout cycle makes rest essential. If your nanny is having a hard time, consider giving them a mental health day to disconnect and unwind. They can then return to work feeling recharged.
And Take One Too!
When was the last time you took a day for yourself? As a busy parent, the past year may have worn you out more than you realize. Taking a mental health day for yourself can be the reset you need, helping you be a more patient and compassionate parent and employer. Work and responsibilities can wait.
Adjust Your Nanny’s Schedule
If your nanny is already burnt out, working a long day can make those feelings even worse. Consider whether there is room to adjust their schedule. For example, if you had your nanny starting the day at 7 a.m. when you went into the office, can you change that time to 8 a.m. now that you’re working from home? These little changes can make a big difference!
Offer to Help Pay for Therapy
Your nanny’s mental health is part of your family’s well being, and working with a therapist may be the best thing they can do to care for themselves. However, therapy can get pricey. Offering to help pay for therapy can make mental healthcare more accessible for your nanny (and it’s a tangible way to show you care!).
Prioritize Your Own Mental Health
Getting real about your own mental health can be tough. But the truth is that, as parents, our mental state affects how we function as employers. If you’re feeling stressed and burnt out, you might be more irritable with your nanny and children. Taking the time to de-stress, see a therapist, and make time for yourself can do wonders for your ability to manage your employees.
Re-Think Your Expectations
All of us are struggling. Our current selves might not be the same as our pre-pandemic selves, and that’s okay. But it also means that you have to re-think your expectations for your nanny. As they try to juggle caring for your children with the weight of the pandemic, they might not be as chipper as they once were. Try to remind yourself that we’re getting closer to normal life every day, and that you might have to adjust your expectations until then.
Building trust with your nanny goes beyond that initial check-in. If you both agree to keep communication open, you can be honest with each other and manage expectations over time. Remember that you both play a central role in your children’s lives. Working together ensures that your children are in a calm and nurturing environment.
Parents, nannies, children–everyone is feeling the pressure right now. It’s time to take a deep breath and have a little extra patience with each other. With the right communication, you can help your nanny provide the best possible care for your children, so we can all get through this pandemic.